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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

“No Gas Day” Bunk — and a Better Idea

While I expect regular readers of Tales from FAR Manor are intelligent types, there are plenty of people out there who either aren’t too smart or turn off their “critical faculties” when reading the latest email.

Take the latest craze: No Gas Day (Snopes link). The idea is to not buy gas on May 15th, under the assumption that it will lower prices. The first problem with that is, even if the entire country were to participate, it wouldn’t make a difference. If you don’t buy gas on Monday, you’ll buy it over the weekend (so you won’t run out) or Tuesday (because you’ll probably be running low). So over four or five days, let alone the entire month, there’s no difference in sales.

The second problem is that demand is at near-record highs, at a time when oil production is starting to decline (according to statistics published on The Oil Drum, we may have reached Peak Oil at the end of 2005). In short, gas prices are high because people are buying all they can get and then some — gasoline inventories have been declining all year and hit a 50-year low at the end of April.

Do you want gas prices to come down? Not buying gas for one day, when you’ll buy it the day before or after, isn’t going to make a difference. What will bring prices down is to not use so much of the stuff. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to cut out 5%, 10%, or even 20% of what you’re using now — we in the US are much more efficient than we were in the 1970s, but there’s still a lot of slop in the system. You can save 5% to 10% just by following some simple Tips to Improve Your Gas Mileage (FuelEconomy.gov link); you don’t have to buy anything. If you have a standard-shift car, give Pulse and Glide driving a try. Just coasting downhill in neutral is enough to give me a 10% boost in gas mileage (36 to 40 mpg).

Simple lifestyle changes, like telecommuting or carpooling, can save 20% or more — and these are the kind of changes that will improve your quality of life and still don’t require you to ride a bus or buy a hybrid. Wouldn’t it be great to not have to drive to work all the time? It would certainly be less stressful.

If everyone used 5% less gas, prices would come down. Of course, the temptation would then be to slack off and watch prices go right back up…


  1. Hi FARfetched.

    I agree with you about Monday and following simple tips. However, I don't see consumption going down even with the prices going up.

  2. Yeah, it's kind of hard to cut back when people are buying SUVs & driving as much as always. You'd probably get the blankest of looks if you suggested to someone complaining about gas prices that they get a smaller vehicle & drive less.

  3. Hi L! I'd have to agree with you about any one-day no-buy things. It's going to take more than that, most definitely.

    But, even by starting small, in one area, can ultimately be helpful in reducing consumption. If one sticks at it. Honestly, I think that with time, what folks may once view as a 'sacrifice' becomes just the way it is, with no more negative connotations.

    Anyway, my sister had forwarded me an email about the no-gas day. I was glad to see it, all the same, as she is not really one to be too involved in that way. There is hope. ;)

  4. Bunk or not, anything that gets attention and starts the Gas Hogs thinking about what they're doing HAS to be better than nothing.

    I WISH we had National Health Care so people could just open small shops near their houses and work closer to home. I think it could totally renew small towns all across the country.

  5. Good points there FAR ... people are still going to use the same amt of gas -- just not buying it on that one day, and to sherm and kb in that maybe it's a simple as consciousness raising ... getting people to talk about it ... to realize that there's a problem. It's a starting place ...

  6. Hi folks!

    Sherm, KB, good point: we gotta start somewhere. I just like my gestures to have meaning, ya know? Fortunately, there are plenty of simple things we can do to make a real difference.

    Winning a big lottery jackpot would be fun. I could buy 100 hybrid cars, and offer to trade people even-up for their SUVs. I wonder how many of them would go for it.


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